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Article :: Supporting Evidence

Machiavailli Reconsidered


The Prince

by Nicolo Machiavelli


CHAPTER XXIV

The Princes Of Italy Have Lost Their States

THE previous suggestions, carefully observed, will enable a new prince to appear well established, and render him at once more secure and fixed in the state than if he had been long seated there. For the actions of a new prince are more narrowly observed than those of an hereditary one, and when they are seen to be able they gain more men and bind far tighter than ancient blood; because men are attracted more by the present than by the past, and when they find the present good they enjoy it and seek no further; they will also make the utmost defence for a prince if he fails them not in other things. Thus it will be a double glory to him to have established a new principality, and adorned and strengthened it with good laws, good arms, good allies, and with a good example; so will it be a double disgrace to him who, born a prince, shall lose his state by want of wisdom.[1]

And if those seigniors are considered who have lost their states in Italy in our times, such as the King of Naples, the Duke of Milan, and others, there will be found in them, firstly, one common defect in regard to arms from the causes which have been discussed at length; in the next place, some one of them will be seen, either to have had the people hostile, or if he has had the people friendly, he has not known how to secure the nobles. In the absence of these defects states that have power enough to keep an army in the field cannot be lost.

Philip of Macedon, not the father of Alexander the Great, but he who was conquered by Titus Quintius, had not much territory compared to the greatness of the Romans and of Greece who attacked him, yet being a warlike man who knew how to attract the people and secure the nobles, he sustained the war against his enemies for many years, and if in the end he lost the dominion of some cities, nevertheless he retained the kingdom.[2]

Therefore, do not let our princes accuse fortune for the loss of their principalities after so many years' possession, but rather their own sloth, because in quiet times they never thought there could be a change (it is a common defect in man not to make any provision in the calm against the tempest), and when afterwards the bad times came they thought of flight and not of defending themselves, and they hoped that the people, disgusted with the insolence of the conquerors, would recall them. This course, when others fail, may be good, but it is very bad to have neglected all other expedients for that, since you would never wish to fall because you trusted to be able to find someone later on to restore you. This again either does not happen, or, if it does, it will not be for your security, because that deliverance is of no avail which does not depend upon yourself; those only are reliable, certain, and durable that depend on yourself and your valour.[3]


    Synopsis:
  • Your state depends on you and your virtues.
  • You may believe you can find somebody to pick you up, but you cannot fully rely on them. You must always rely on yourself.


[1] Machiavailli reiterates that a ruler can ONLY retain power by understanding the source and nature of power which, unstated is NOT the property of the ruler, but is the property of power holders within society and the ruler only balances the conflicting interests of power holders. A ruler is only able to secure tribute (power, his "cut" of society's power) to the extent that power holders consider such tribute and ruler decrees to be "tolerable", to the extent of not negatively affecting the property (turf, survival) of power holders. If a ruler fails at this, REAL power holders will consider the survival risk of dissent, revolution and seeking a "new deal" to be acceptable. In other words, at all times, rulers must project the actuality and perception of ruler value, sufficient to preclude dissent from power holders and to motivate support when adversity inevitably strikes.

[2] Machiavailli successfuly argues for the absolute neccessity of "willing consent of the governed" for success or survival of any ruler or regiem, for all of history. Further argues that successful states need defence from external threats (predators) whom WILL envy, covet and attempt to pillage the state's security and prosperity which is solely a product of controlling domestic predators.

[3] Above all, a ruler should be prepared for misfortune and adversity and avoid being lulled by present state of affairs into assuming it will last forever.

Nothing material, including you, ever does last. With the sands of time, you and all of your works, apart from the knowlege you have discovered and convinced significant others that it is worthy to be included in mankind's substantial body of knowlege for propagation throughout history, will be "dust in the wind". Even if you do manage to make such a worthy contribution to knowlege, to the extent it interferes with the ambitions and manipulations of arbitrary power, it will be blocked, suppressed, misinterpreted, misrepresented and ridiculed by self-appointed "gatekeepers of truth" within monopolistic educational, information dispensing, judical power structures, in strategic denial whose interests are not served by truth, but seek instead, "pretexts to prey" within a social / philosophical environment of a public woefully "miseducated to ignorance".

Depending on others is a risk. If you must depend on others, insure that they are dependent on you, to avoid betrayal. The surest path to success and non-failure is to depend on yourself, continuously improve your knowlege / wisdom and, above all, have and exercise courage in the face of adversity that shall never cease, so long as you shall live.



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